10 November, 2016

A Letter to my Beloved Students

Beloved babies, 
You have all been on my mind in the most profound way the last few difficult days. I can only imagine how shocking and frightening it has been for you, seeing your world churn in this way, feeling unsafe, and I am certain, afraid. 

I do not blame you. 

I want you to know that I keep my promises: you shall always have complete safety with, and and ally in, me.

So many of our shared memories have flooded through my mind in the last 72 hours: the now ever-more relevant themes of Electra and her struggles, the house of Oedipus, our ever-more prescient Trojan Women, the Hope remaining in Pandora's jar. Every single one of the plays we made together are ancient, and the ancients have been warning us of life's joys and horrors  for 4000 years.

But above all, I thought of Spoon River. 

People. Just people. Ordinary Americans with a myriad of pasts, needs, goals, myths, and pains--Americans who have just endured the First World War, with differing views, beliefs, politics and outlooks... yet there they all are, sharing the hill.

I am so proud to have been any part of your lives; you know how much you have always meant to and given me, and it is an honor to start to call you friends and not just students. Our paths are intrinsically intertwined and I felt compelled to share this moment with you. You are the future. 
Every night this week, the themes of Fiddler have been chilling in their relevance, but still we serve, and the catharsis of that collective, shared service has been a source of healing for the artists and the audience. That is what theatre has always been there for in society. You are the lucky servants, and we are the creators of the present and future. We have a job to do, we must serve to change the darkness that seems to swallow our world.

For freedom isn’t free, my loves. It blooms by the blood of those who seek it, and those who protect it against forces that would take it away. Artists have just been given the greatest role of all: to fight with our stories, our acceptance, our empathy. To lead with our understanding, our temperance and our tolerance for and of others, but intolerance of hatred and evil. That is NOT political. That is human. And as artists we are tasked by representing that humanity. 
Do not despair, create.
Do not destroy, serve.
Do not raise your fists in anger, reach your palms across the divide in an attempt to understand.
That takes courage, that takes dignity.
Be bigger than your opponents.
Love more than you could ever be hated.

And on the note of love:
I love you.
I love you truly.
I think love is the best super power we have, and I am sending all of mine to you for you each are beautiful beacons of hope; there will never be words for the gifts you have given me, and I hope I have given you a 1/100th in return.
Remember my babies;
The good we do.
How much we create.
The respect we bestow.

How hard we love—no one gets to vote on these.

With every last fiber of my heart,



Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver

On a summer morning
I sat down
On a hillside
To think about God

A worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
A single cricket;
It was moving the grains of the hillside

This way and that way.
How great was it's energy,
How humble it's effort.
Let us hope

It will always be like this,
Each of us going on
In our own inexplicable ways
Building the universe. 


  1. Tom BuderwitzNovember 16, 2016

    What a beautiful missive of love and support. These students are very lucky to have you lead them. Much love to you, Al !!!

  2. You are an incredibly special teacher and person.

  3. Thank you friends. The honor to teach and know them is all mine. xx



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